2016 11 - Earning an RPS Distinction

29th November 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
24th November 2016

Earning an RPS Distinction

President Alan Burkwood had the pleasure of opening our meeting with the good news that several members, including himself, had been successful in the big event of the year.

Our speaker was Geoff Hicks from Clay Cross Derbyshire who is also a former President of the Chesterfield Club. He came to share his experience in progressing from a boyhood interest in photography to achieving the first distinction of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) - the Licentiate. The Society is one of the oldest established in the world and their distinctions get harder to achieve as you progress.
Geoff began with some background to his interest in photography, which has led to him developing a style attempting to make the observer think about his images, while not necessarily finding them attractive. He prefers to set himself projects, such as one featuring telephone boxes, working with series of images rather than concentrating on competition images, where each is a one off. The latter also forces the photographer to consider the views of judges to aim for a successful result when producing the image rather than pleasing himself.

Geoff seeks out humour in an image, such as one showing a large sign declaring 'Pink Area' in a situation where there were no other colour coded areas, and indeed, no pink either.
Geoff advocated looking more closely at scenes to see what was there if you look beyond the obvious. He suggested standing still and turning a full circle, seeing how many images appeared in view in the process.

Having started on his journey to his Licentiate, Geoff discovered that the RPS is helpful, wanting people to succeed in gaining their distinctions. He commended the guidelines setting out the requirements in detail and the advisory events where applicants can seek comments on their work before submitting it for evaluation.

There are various categories in which you can submit your work to be evaluated for the Licentiate. Geoff opted for the panel of 10 prints. At this level you have to demonstrate sound technical skill and know your camera. The presentation needs to be spot on, with coherent colours, a pleasing overall impression, good mounts and the images well positioned within the display. The printing should be faultless, but a good home printer will suffice.

Geoff showed a selection of the work he had considered during the process of developing his panel. He chose from work in his existing catalogue and spent some two months making the selection and taking advice before making his submission. The final selection included examples of different subjects, a range of exposure times and varied depths of field.

Geoff paid the small fee required to sit in on the adjudication of other peoples' prints. Eventually he felt ready to submit and booked in for a session at Birmingham. Prints printed; labelled with his number and the correct orientation and their position in the panel and subsequently handed in, he could only sit and watch. His was the last set to be examined. The panel of judges viewed from their seats, walked up and examined the images closely, discussed them just loudly enough for each other to hear, but quietly enough that the applicants could not, returned to their seats and gave their decision.

We learned that the only thing the applicants wanted to hear was their own name, which preceded the hoped for declaration that they had met the standard. Unsuccessful applicants are not named and resubmit free of charge.

Geoff was successful at his first attempt. He commended the process to anyone interested in achieving honours for their work and finished with the encouraging observation that most people are better than they think they are.